Janet Mills addresses members of the Legislature virtually at the Augusta Civic Center in this Wednesday, Dec. 2, file photo. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Janet Mills is considering getting inoculated against the coronavirus in public to show confidence in the new vaccine, but she will wait until health experts determine her place in line, her office said this week.

Leaders around the country have said they would be willing to be vaccinated live in order to build trust in the vaccine. But where many of them fall within the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines — which Maine is largely following — is not immediately clear. 

The health agency recommends states prioritize vaccinations for health care personnel and older Mainers in congregate living facilities if supply is limited, as it is now with the monthslong process kicking off nationally this week. That group is followed by workers in essential industries and people at high risk to the virus because of underlying conditions or those aged 65 years or older. In Maine, those populations are in the first half of a four-stage plan.

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Mills, who is 72, could qualify for one of those relatively early vaccines because of her age. State leaders could also deem her as an essential worker, although Maine law defines essential workers as those who provide “services to the public as a whole,” such as utility service, snowplowing, road maintenance. Mills is able to conduct much of her work remotely, as she did when she was in quarantine after a member of her security team tested positive for the virus. 

Mills spokesperson Lindsay Crete said Tuesday that the Democratic governor has confidence in the recently distributed Pfizer vaccine and would be vaccinated “when the Maine CDC’s vaccine plan determines it is appropriate.”

Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence and President-elect Joe Biden plan to get inoculated publicly in the coming days. Biden, who is 78, has said Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, advised him to get the vaccine “sooner than later,” though the incoming president has said that he wants to keep front-line health care workers and vulnerable people as the top priority as the vaccine is rolled out throughout the country.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, received the vaccine Monday as the first doses arrived. In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan has said he would do so when the vaccine is available. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, also a Republican, has said she would do so to convince skeptics. In New Hampshire, Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, said he was planning to get vaccinated, but would wait, citing his relatively young age of 46 and lack of underlying health problems.

Associated Press writer Aamer Madhani contributed to this report.

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